WASHINGTON D.C. – House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today introduced the Healthcare Market Certainty and Mandate Relief Act (H.R.4200/S. 2052) following their bicameral agreement last week. The legislation would pair concrete, structural Obamacare reforms with a temporary funding extension for the health law’s cost-sharing reduction (CSR) program.
“This legislation lays out an immediate rescue plan for the millions of Americans still trapped in Obamacare,” Brady said. “This important legislation takes action to help provide certainty in the marketplaces in the near term, by legally and temporarily funding CSRs, while also proposing solutions supported by the House and the Senate that will expand access and allow more workers, families, and small businesses to choose health care that is right for them – not what Washington says is best. We continue to explore new ways to provide certainty, stability, and relief from Obamacare’s failures – rising premiums, fewer choices, limited access – as we work towards a patient-centered health care system.”
“This initiative is designed to add to the debate on how we can best address – in the near term – the current challenges plaguing the American healthcare system,” Hatch said. “Recent proposals to address the individual markets do not have the support needed to clear both chambers of Congress and become law. Our legislation provides temporary relief for Americans while starting to undo the most harmful aspects of Obamacare – a priority for many members. As we work toward finding an effective solution, our bicameral approach should be considered in ongoing discussions about how to come together to replace our nation’s flawed health law.”
- Funding for CSRs through 2019, with pro-life protections. For 2018, health plan issuers must meet certain conditions, including not increasing premium rates due to assumption of receiving CSRs, or reducing premium rates through a process established by a state, to receive CSRs. The Secretaries of Treasury and Health and Human Services would work with states and issuers to prevent “double dipping”;
- Relief from the individual mandate from 2017-2021. This time frame should produce enough savings to cover the cost of providing relief from the employer mandate and the HSA expansion policy;
- Relief from the employer mandate from 2015-2017. Employers would be exempt from penalties if they did not provide coverage based on requirements of the mandate; and
- Expansion of HSAs to increase the maximum contribution limit.
The proposed agreement, crafted by the leaders of the House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over Obamacare, can serve as a basis for the types of real reforms Congress should look to include to relieve Americans from Obamacare’s worst failures. It addresses policy concerns in both chambers to provide relief and create certainty.
Under the Obama administration, the Treasury Department made CSR payments without congressional approval. Recently, the Trump administration announced it would no longer send this money to insurance companies without the Constitutionally-required appropriation from Congress.